All Too Similar
Monday, 11.21.2011 / 7:35 AM PT
The details of Thursday night vs. the Kings and last night vs. the Red Wings were eerily similar -- and that's not a good thing.
Both were bitter rivalry games in which the Ducks tied to try it on a late 6-on-4, only to be stomach-punched by a clinching empty net goal. It happened in that 5-3 defeat to the Kings and history repeated itself last night in a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings.
The Ducks were put in an early hole when they gave up early-in-period goals to some familiar faces. It was Henrik Zetterberg 1:26 into the first and Johan Franzen just 14 seconds into the second. A few minutes after Franzen's tally, Brad Stuart piled on with a goal from the right circle to make it 3-0, leading Ryan Getzlaf to say, "I thought we came out of the gates okay. We still dug a hole. There is no doubt about that. The score doesn’t lie. At some point during the game, we let ourselves get down and get behind."
But to the Ducks' credit, they didn't hang their heads, getting one back on an odd-man rush one-timer from Saku Koivu and then a power play goal by Teemu Selanne set up by a nifty backhand pass through the crease by Corey Perry.
That drew Anaheim within a goal, which is where it stood when they were handed two power play opportunities late in the game. They didn't get the goal they needed off Justin Abdelkater's boarding call with 5:46 left, but they had another chance when Jonathan Ericsson was whistled for hooking with 2:34 on the clock.
As was the case when they desperately tried to tied the score against the Kings, Randy Carlyle pulled his goalie (Dan Ellis Thursday; Jonas Hiller last night) to create a 6-on-4. And for the second straight game, a giveaway on that power play did the Ducks in. The Ducks let the puck slip away into the slot, where Stuart picked it up and artfully banked it off the wall and into the middle of the abandoned net from 120 feet away. (Watching that puck slowly roll along the ice toward that net with no one in front of it was a little like watching a car crash transpire with no way of stopping it. Too dramatic? I don't think so.)
The 4-2 final on the scoreboard didn't reflect how close the Ducks came to tying that game. It didn't reflect the close calls, like Bobby Ryan's rebound try 13 minutes into the second, where Jimmy Howard dove across the crease to knock the puck away with his glove, Ryan raising his arms in the air thinking he'd gotten his long-awaited goal. Replays showed the puck got ever-so-close to crossing the stripe in the air, but not definitively enough to reverse the call on the ice. There was another near-miss with less than a minute to go in the second, when an apparent Devante Smith-Pelly goal was deflected away by the handle (the handle) of Howard's stick. Seconds later, Ryan roofed in a loose puck, only to have the whistle blow as soon as he touched it because of a Smith-Pelly cross checking penalty.
When you're winning, those are the kinds of things that go your way. When you're struggling, they all too often go against you. And that's what the Ducks are dealing with right now.
"It’s tough. It’s a new experience for us here," said Getzlaf of the Ducks' continued struggles. "We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of this thing."
They were given a day off today, and their next chance comes on the road, Wednesday night in Phoenix.
"We are in a situation where we have to play ourselves out of it and that includes me," Getzlaf continued. "I just have to keep playing and we have to lead by example. Our group here, who I have been with for a little while, we have a great core of leaders and we just have to keep pushing."